THE 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: PANDEMIC PARALYSIS
By Gary A. Lucks*
As Governor Newsom entered his second year at the helm, he was riding high with approval ratings north of 60% with ambitions to tackle the state’s housing deficit and wildfire risk leveraging a bountiful budget surplus. Months later, eclipsed by the pandemic, he found himself facing a potential budget shortfall with no bandwidth to proactively advance his environmental policy agenda. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom’s fortunes have dramatically worsened as he faces a recall election in November.
The California Legislature also struggled as they faced disagreement over the number of bills they would consider during a truncated legislative session, and whether to allow remote voting. Despite the Democratic juggernaut, the session concluded with a dearth of legislative output, falling far short of legislative aspirations with several high-profile bills failing amid heightened tensions and acrimony in the waning hours of the legislative session.